People Can Copy What You’ve Done, But Not What You’ll Do Next

Copying In Business
Don’t let it bother you too much if someone is copying you.

Recently my wife and I attended the Parade Of Homes in our area (Eau Claire, Wisconsin).

We were at one of the homes and the owner of the building company was sitting at the table. The home wasn’t too buys during that time so we had a chance to chat for a few minutes.

He asked if there had been homes that we had really liked so far. We said that we always have liked the homes that he had built. And we mentioned another builder that seemed to have similar styles and designs.

The builder just smiled and made a comment that he was aware of that builder and how they kind of liked to do similar home designs and even similar marketing efforts.

Innovation vs. Copying

I don’t know if I’ve ever gotten too hung up on the idea of someone stealing ideas. I had a friend in college that was very protective of his business ideas. I never understood that because good ideas are a dime a dozen. Anyone can have ideas.

But not everyone acts on ideas and puts in the work to see something through. That’s where the real separation comes in.

So I was never really worried about anyone taking my idea and doing it first. I’m sure it happens in some cases, but I would think it’s pretty rare.

I actually think most of life’s innovation comes from building on top of the ideas of others. Apple was not the inventor of the phone. They didn’t invent a smart device to check your email. I don’t even think they invented the smartphone. They took that idea and built on top of it to create the iPhone.

That’s just how life works. You might have and execute a good idea and others will take that idea and build on it just as you probably did with your idea.

So when the builder made that comment about the other builder basically copying what they were doing it reminded me of a lesson I heard some time ago…

They Can’t Copy What You’ll Do Next

With many things in life you’ll find that others will often copy what you’re doing…now. If you’re having success and doing good things then it’s natural for others to want to do similar things.

And it’s not really worth any effort to try and stop them. I think once you start spending your energy trying to stop others from copying you that you’re going to lose focus on what you’ll do next.

And that’s what others can’t copy.

You control what you’re going to be doing in the future.

The builder we spoke with is probably not going to put too much thought or effort into trying to stop that other builder from doing similar designs or marketing. It’s not worth it. Instead, the builder is busy working on fleshing out his next development and next home designs and his next marketing campaign.


Over the years I’ve written blog posts and then have seen the occasional other blog kind of copy the same post and publish as their own. It’s just kind of something that goes with the territory.

I don’t spend too much time thinking about it when it happens. There might be some negative things that come from it, but in the long run things usually work out for you if you’re the originator of the content or whatever you’re creating.

People are very good at figuring out the best option available. Generally, someone that just copies what others are doing is not the best choice in the industry.

That builder that we chatted with is one of the best and his reputation reflects that in the community. The other builder is respected too, but not because he’s copying anything. It’s because that builder does good work as well. He may copy some things, but he also does unique things as well.

Final Thought

The main takeaway here is that it’s not worth the energy to try to stop others from copying what you’re doing. You only have so much energy to expend each day. You can either spend it chasing down someone that’s copying you or you can spend it focusing on what you’ll do next. And if you focus on the latter then you’ll be in a position to find continued success and your audience will recognize you as a leader in the industry.

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